Dylan Lupton, the 2013 NASCAR K&N Pro Series Rookie of the Year points leader, scored his first career victory on Saturday night as he took top honors at Evergreen Speedway. Spokane's Braeden Havens earned a 4th place finish, the best of his young career.
MONROE, Wash. – It took just 12 races, but Dylan Lupton is a NASCAR K&N Pro Series West race winner. The 19-year-old from Wilton, Calif., held off a fierce charge by Greg Pursley to win the NAPA Auto Parts 150 presented by Toyota at Evergreen Speedway on Saturday.
In a race in which the leaders all encountered trouble, it was a rookie who took advantage of the opportunity to go to Victory Lane at the historic .646-mile track in Monroe, Wash.
“This is my first time at Evergreen Speedway,” said Lupton, the leading contender for this year’s Sunoco Rookie of the Year title. “I struggled all day long. It was funny, I asked Greg Pursley earlier today for a little bit of advice. I said, ‘Greg I’m lost out here. I need help.’ He gave me a little bit of advice. I never in a million years would think that I would be battling him for the win.
“This is just unbelievable,” said Lupton, who drives the No. 9 Vadio/Lupton Excavating/Sunrise Ford Ford for car owner Bob Bruncati. “I can’t believe that we won this race. It’s amazing that we were able to come from ninth place and win it. We kept the wheels on the car. I made sure not to get into anybody and cut a tire. The cards just played into our hands.”
Cameron Hayley, who for the fifth time this season won the 21 Means 21 Pole Award by Coors Brewing Co. in qualifying, led the first 30 laps before slowing with a mechanical problem. After a lengthy pit stop, he returned to action four laps off the pace.
From there, the race developed into a spirited three-way battle between Pursley, Derek Thorn and Eric Holmes – with a lot of side-by-side racing for the lead and each driver appearing to have the upper hand at different portions of the race.
A late-race caution, meanwhile, set the stage for a wild scramble and dramatic finish. Holmes led on the Lap 145 restart, with Thorn to his inside in second. As the pair charged into Turn 1, their cars banged together and slid up the track and into the wall. Drivers behind them scrambled to avoid the pileup. The incident led to a red flag and sidelined Holmes and rookie Giles Thornton, who was running fourth at the restart.
Lupton, who managed to dodge the melee, was determined to be the race leader. Carl Harr lined up in second, with Pursley third and Thorn right behind him in fifth for the final restart.
Lupton charged out front at the drop of the green, with Pursley in pursuit and Thorn following. Lupton held on to win by a margin .194 seconds. Pursley, who won at Monroe in 2011, crossed the line for second and then slammed the Turn 1 wall.
“I would like to say it was a good night, we finished second – but we killed the car,” Pursley said. “We got in a wreck down there. With three to go the (No.) 6 car turned the (No.) 16 car and came off the wall and got us pretty hard. We were racing hard there at the end and blew a tire going in there and killed the car.”
Following Pursley across the line for third was Thorn, who took the blame for touching off the multi-car incident with Holmes.
“I got a good restart; so I was next to him,” Thorn said. “I was giving it everything I could. I drove it down in there and just didn’t have enough – my brakes just weren’t balanced. It ended up being dominant rear (brakes) getting into the corner and any air I had on my spoiler was taken away because me and him were side by side. It was just a perfect storm. I drove it in too deep, no air on the spoiler, too much rear brake. I couldn’t save it, got into him. I tried to lean on him equally, to where I was pushing him up and not spinning him out. I ended up knocking him around. It seemed like everyone behind him got collected in it too. I just feel bad, the NAPA guys put on a great, great show here and they sponsor a lot of our races. I hate it for them and Bill McAnally Racing.”
Braeden Havens and Carl Harr each had a career-best series finish in fourth and fifth, respectively. Completing the top 10 were Taylor Cuzick, Jack Sellers, Daryl Harr, Matt Tifft and Hayley.
The race featured seven lead changes among five drivers. The pace was slowed by five cautions for 17 laps.
Thorn was able to retain his lead in the championship standings. He leads with 389 over Hayley, who moved to second with 366. Michael Self, who encountered mechanical trouble at Monroe and finished 11 laps down in 16th, slipped to third in the standings with 362. Pursley is fourth at 353, with Lupton fifth at 337. Carl Harr at 299, Cuzick at 297, Daryl Harr at 276, Dylan Hutchison at 269 and Thornton at 267 complete the top 10 in points.
The NAPA Auto Parts 150 presented by Toyota is slated to air on Fox Sports 1 on Sept. 8 at 9 a.m. ET.
The NASCAR K&N Pro Series West continues its swing through the Pacific Northwest with a visit to Spokane County Raceway in Airway Heights, Wash., for the Toyota/NAPA Auto Parts 150 on Saturday, Aug. 24.